At the start of this year, I found myself praying for the church, the church world wide, the church located in nations and in cities.
I guess I was getting a small insight into the passion Jesus has for His church. Jesus loved and gave Himself for the church - His body, His temple made from living stones.
I remember when a young Christian, newly arrived from mainland China to a nearby town, was asking ‘where is the church?’
When he was offered the choice of different churches, Baptist, A.O.G. and others, he became confused and bewildered. ‘No’ he replied, I am looking for the church! To him there was only ‘the church’. Understanding and honouring one another as members of the one body of Christ in China has been a vital key to ongoing growth of the church in that nation. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body”. 1Cor. 12:13
According to Scripture, it is by the church that the wisdom of God will be made known – not one particular part of it. It is by the church in one accord that the world will know who Jesus is. No wonder Jesus’ passionate prayer during His last hours on earth was ‘Father make them one, even as we are one’. It seems Jesus’ uppermost request for all who would believe was that they experience a oneness that would reflect the oneness that He had always had with His Father and Holy Spirit.
What might happen if Jesus’ prayer became our uppermost prayer? What might happen if we as leaders, after praying this prayer, led the way and gave ourselves wholeheartedly to getting to know, love and stay connected to other Christian leaders in our city? What might happen if every local church in our town/city prioritised fervent prayer for oneness of the whole church of that place? (We would be praying for a oneness of heart and mind – not structure.)
If Christians cannot be the church locally how can we expect it to be the church widespread? Could it be that our isolated, individual efforts, well intended as they may be, are in reality short- circuiting God’s plan to bring glory to His Name in our city or town and even our nation?
If the need for oneness of the Church was uppermost in Jesus mind during His last hours on earth would that not signify the need for a similar cry to rise from His people today? What would happen if Christians everywhere prioritised prayer for oneness in the Church – the church in cities, in the nations and in the world - as Jesus did? Scripture says if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us - we know its His will – Jesus prayed it!